Ten days of winter storms, each lasting about three days with a single day of blue sky between, has left the Hollow rimed with ice over every tree and shrub. It made for harsh times, cutting wood in bitter, wet cold and securing the animals in the barn for days on end. It knocked out our internet connection for nine days. But it has left beauty in its wake as well.
The storms have made for good snowshoeing conditions, creating a hard crust of snow. Days of previous freezing rain had coated all the hardwood twigs with shells of ice, and the trees sparkled as if set with gems in the low northern sun. On this bitter cold day, as I hunted rabbits for our dinner, the trees swayed in a mild but penetratingly cold breeze, and the ice-rimed branches struck pellmell against one another, so that the entire forest sounded as if wind chimes made of precious crystal were hung from every bough. Thus, I have decided to name the hidden trail to the East Glade the Crystal Trail.
After three mild winters that were easy on the wildlife, the land is once again that of a harsh northern realm. But wildlife populations are up due to the three previous mild winters. Everywhere there is spoor of rabbits, hawks, coyotes, wildcats, and grouse. Here is sign of a rabbit winter feeding upon the cambium of an alder sapling. This particular sapling was damaged enough it will probably die, but it never stood much chance growing in the shade of a well established, mature white spruce.
When the wind blows out of the north again, bringing with it another fierce storm, many trees will break, weighed down by a rime of ice a half inch thick on every twig and branch, as you can see upon this mature birch which bows beneath the burden of hundreds of pounds of ice.
Yet for all that there is great beauty. Light plays over a landscape of winter crystal.